Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
When we pray about forgiving those who have sinned against us in Jesus’ prayer, we aren’t trying to cut a deal with God. All the peace that comes with his forgiveness would quickly disappear if we believed that, in order to have a sin forgiven, we had to find an occasion to forgive someone else.
Rather, this reflects the effect of God’s forgiveness on forgiven people. Our relationship with God is not the only relationship sin destroyed. It has exactly the same effect on our relationships with each other. When someone sins against us, they fail to pay us the love they owe. Our own debt to others grows when we sin against them. Anyone who has ever had a bill collector pestering him knows what has happened to the relationship between himself and those he owes. Anyone who has ever been owed money that is not being repaid in a timely way knows the strain this puts on a friendship. You begin to resent the person who owes you. The person who owes may begin avoiding you. The relationship may be destroyed. This also happens when the debt is not a debt of money, but of love. Unforgiven sin not only drives us from God. It drives us from each other.
It was God’s forgiveness that restored our relationship with him. That love has had a profound effect upon our hearts. It moves us to desire reconciliation with the world the way God does. We aren’t just servants, slaving away for our divine master. Jesus told his disciples before he died that they were no longer servants, who don’t know their master’s business. They were friends. He made them (and us) part of his family business. We share our Father’s concern. That means we joyfully forgive those who owe us, who trespass against us.
In this way God has given us a wonderful medicine for dealing with the hurts we dish out to each other. It is true that we have been hurt–we can genuinely say we have been sinned against. Others have not paid us the debt of love they owe.
But we don’t have to live with the misery of grudges and resentments constantly seething underneath our skin. As you know, the key to any good relationship is communication. The key thing we must learn to communicate to each other is forgiveness. That is the key thing our Savior has communicated to you and me.